The Atlanta Braves add two pitchers to end night one of the MLB Draft

Virginia Tech v Clemson
Virginia Tech v Clemson / Eakin Howard/GettyImages

After selecting Hurston Waldrep with pick 24, the Atlanta Braves had two picks left to end night one of the 2023 MLB First-Year Player Draft. They would add two more college pitchers

Pick 59- Drue Hackenberg, P, Virginia Tech

With their second-round selection, the Braves look to Virginia Tech to take Drue Hackenberg. MLB Pipeline has Hackenberg as their 200th-ranked prospect, so there is a shot the Braves are looking at him as an under slot signing.

Maybe the Braves look to save a couple hundred thousand dollars here? Potentially so. Potential is also how we have to look at Hackenberg as he did not have the best year at Virginia Tech.

In 85.1 IP, he had a 5.80 ERA and 1.629 WHIP. Not ideal. He struck out 99 of the 400 batters faced (24.8% strikeout rate) which is a solid number. He only walked 26 batters (6.5%) which is certainly a good sign.

Hackenberg is seen as a sinker slider guy. The sinker sits around 93 and can tick up to 95 with good downward movement which will help him get ground balls. His slider sits 83-85 which has the potential to be above average and get some swings and misses but is not currently seen as a true out pitch. He also features a show-me changeup that some scouts think could be better with the right development.

The strength of Hackenberg is his command. He throws strikes. The issue is he currently lacks a true out pitch. That is what will be what holds him back if he struggles to develop a pitch into a true plus pitch. He did end the season better than he started, so there is hope the numbers this year are not really him. His peak is probably a number 3 starter, but the more likely outcome is an inning eater that can take the ball every 5th day as your number 4 pitcher.

Scouting Grades: Fastball: 50 Slider: 50 Changeup: 45 Control: 55 Overall: 40

Pick 70- Cade Kuehler, P, Campell University

The compensation pick for Dansby Swanson leaving for Chicago, the Atlanta Braves use it on another pitcher. This time, they select Cade Kuehler from Campell University in North Carolina.

He was rated 59 by MLB pipeline, so by that publication, the Braves get good value. Kuehler does have reliever risk, but he also has plenty of upside due to the stuff he possesses.

Kuehler's fastball has some of the best metrics in the draft. It generates a great spin rate and carries on a four-seamer that sits between 93-96 and can peak at 98. He throws a mid-80s slider with depth but can also use it more like a cutter as well. He also has deployed a low-80s curveball, a traditional low-80s changeup, and a mid-80s splitter/changeup type pitch.

Unfortunately for Kuehler, he did get hit harder than he should at times. This is due to his trouble with his command. He would leave a few pitches over the heart of the plate. Through 73 innings this year, he had a 2.71 ERA & 1.096 WHIP. He struck out 91 of the 310 batters (29.4%) and walked 28 (8.4%). He will need to hone in on his command.

The upside is there. At his peak, he could be a number 2 or high-end 3 in a major league rotation. However, the concerns with his mechanics and 6-foot frame might make him more of a reliever long term. The Braves front office was shown celebrating grabbing Kuehler during the draft, so they do see something they like in his profile.

He carries a slot value of $1,047,500.

Scouting Grades: Fastball: 60 Curveball: 55 Slider: 60 Changeup: 50 Control: 45 Overall: 50